The Republican Party has complained to the Federal Election Commission that Gmail is censoring GOP emails following a report showing that bias has crept into the spam filter algorithms (SFAs) of the major email services.
Gmail marks 67.5% of email from the right as spam, versus only 10.2% of those from the left, according to “A Peek into the Political Biases in Email Spam Filtering Algorithms During US Election 2020,” a study from North Carolina State University (which we recently reported on).
This has cost Republican candidates $2 billion in fundraising since 2019, the GOP claims.
"As midterm elections approach, we are formally calling on the FEC to investigate the extent and intentionality of Google’s censorship of Republican fundraising efforts," RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, NRSC Chairman Sen. Rick Scott, and NRCC Chairman Rep. Tom Emmer said in a joint statement, Fox News reports.
The statement continues, "This is a financially devastating example of Silicon Valley tech companies unfairly shaping the political playing field to benefit their preferred far-left candidates.
It adds, "Companies like Google don’t think you have the right to hear both sides: they’d rather make the decision for you.”
The Fox report overlooks the fact that Outlook and Yahoo go in the opposite direction from Gmail, as shown in the study.
Outlook is unfriendly to all campaign emails, marking 95.8% those from the left, as spam versus 75.4% from the right.
Yahoo marks 14.2% more left-wing emails as spam than right-wing, while designating 55.2% of political emails as spam.
The same study notes that “”we have no reason to believe that there were deliberate attempts from these email services to create these biases to influence the voters.”
However, the study authors concede, “‘As these prominent email services are actively used by a sizable chunk of voting population and as many of the voters today rely on the information they see (or don’t see) online, such biases may have an unignorable impact on the outcomes of an election.”
Of course, a spam designation can be caused by any number of factors, including the removal of emails into the spam folder by the recipient.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”